It's tough to find the right summer camp for any kid. But if your child has special needs, like autism or ADHD, sensory-motor challenges, social anxiety, or learning differences, choosing a program can be especially nerve-racking: we want our kids to enjoy a traditional summer-camp experience, complete with swimming and lanyards and new friendships, while also receiving the kind of individual attention they need. Children with special needs often shun sports or swimming, get spooked by new activities, large groups, field trips, and other breaks in routine, and are prone to meltdowns when exposed to crowds and sensory overload. They also may need careful supervision to make sure they are being safe and playing well with their peers. Please consult the individual camps to see what kinds of needs they support and be aware that many require an interview to make sure your child is the right fit for their program.
Camps outside of New York City and on Staten Island provide bussing, so don't be discouraged by the seemingly far-flung locations: it can be especially therapeutic for kids to get out of the city for the summer. While most of these camps cater exclusively to special-needs children, other traditional summer camps often offer inclusion programs for those with mild special needs (a few are mentioned below). Please consult our Summer Camp Guide for NYC Kids for a list of our favorite summer camps across the city to see if there are any that might work for your child.